Former Free Presbyterian pastor of Portree and Moderator of Synod;

Born: December 14, 1924; Died: April 29, 2013.

The Rev Fraser MacDonald, who has died aged 88, was for 40 years Free Presbyterian pastor of Portree, twice moderator of synod and, latterly, his church's most senior cleric. When he died, he was in the 61st year of his ministry.

Born in Oban, of a well-known Free Presbyterian family, little Fraser was from an early age fascinated by the pulpit and the varied rhetorical styles of ministers: amused contemporaries remember the boy in local fields preaching to the sheep.

Though never physically robust – and thus denied service in the Second World War – he was of evident and considerable ability and duly graduated MA from the University of Edinburgh. He was received as a student for the Free Presbyterian ministry and, after training, he was licensed to preach in 1952 and duly ordained and inducted to the North Tolsta congregation, on the Isle of Lewis.

He is still remembered fondly in Tolsta. Though not a native speaker, he quickly mastered Gaelic. And, though at first without a manse, he helped design a suitable property and happily laboured alongside the men in its construction. He married Sarah MacLeod, raised in Greenock, but of island parentage.

He was soon fast friends with the redoubtable Free Church minister, Rev Angus Finlayson – though it did not preclude their joyous denominational ding-dongs in the correspondence-columns of the Stornoway Gazette.

MacDonald especially liked to recall the visit of Rev Petros Mzamo, a minister in the Free Presbyterian mission of what was then Southern Rhodesia, in 1963 – the year Mr Mzamo served as Moderator, the first black man to do so.

MacDonald himself would twice serve as Moderator, in 1967 and 1976. In 1966, though (and to Tolsta's desolation) he was called to the charge of Portree in Skye, and was inducted there on the 21st June. Though he had many opportunities to leave it, he never did so; and in August 2002 many friends gathered for a special service to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination.

By then, of course, he had long become a Portree institution; an immaculate figure of regular habits, brisk routine and no mean bearing and a characteristic habit of gazing you keenly in the eye, under shrewd bushy brows. "A fine gentleman and as accurate as a Swiss watch," a youth of the Skye capital recalls. "I would see him walk into Portree square each morning. I accidentally got in his way one morning and his look spoke to me more than words could say - I never got in his way again even when I left school and worked as an accountant. A truly honest and sincere man who stuck to his guns."

In April 2006, though, he bowed to old age and – to general sadness – resigned the charge and quit the pastoral ministry.

Many would argue that Rev Fraser MacDonald was the finest preacher in the post-war Free Presbyterian church. He was blessed with a rich, resonant voice; he had an extraordinary command of vocabulary, pitch and cadence, and could move in moments from down-to-earth tender clarity to the majesty of the seis, the traditional, ringing chant of Gaelic preaching.

All was underpinned by evident personal holiness and a piety that, though never intimidating, was profoundly Christ-centred. He was an assiduous visitor, a fearless campaigner in the public square – especially against Sabbath-breaking or blasphemous entertainments – and an easy, warm presence in any home. He will also be remembered for his elegance – he had an eye for good tailoring, and wore it well; his beautiful singing voice – and, on a lighter note, as a wickedly funny mimic.

If there are regrets, one would be that he never played great part in the leadership of his denomination, save for a brief spell as Assistant Clerk of Synod.

It was also sad that a growing, nervy reluctance to travel (he refused all his life to fly, and in later decades became very averse even to ferries) eventually restricted his pulpit gifts largely to Skye.

In his final years – latterly resident at the Budhmor Home, Portree – he bore with great serenity the loss of strength, faculties and finally even his speech; his bearing amidst these indignities, made a great impression on many.

Rev Fraser MacDonald is survived by his wife, Sarah, and grieving brothers and sisters, including the Rev Alfred MacDonald, minister of Gairloch. "It is only those who receive Christ in truth," our late friend preached in 1965, "that can refuse what the world has to offer; and it is only those who are brought to refuse what the world has to offer, who in truth receive Christ."